D-Day 75

#DDay75 #NeverForget
I was talking to an elderly ex-veteran at the British Legion Care Home my father resides it. He asked me what I thought of the commemorations planned for D-Day 75. Was it important to still mark these days, and why?
I responded that such landmark events should be remembered and praised by the younger generations – for without the courage of my new friend and his comrades we would probably not know or enjoy the freedom we do today. Europe was markedly changed as a result of World War 2 – maybe even the whole world. Imagine Europe if the likes of Hitler had won – tyranny, racism, hatred, oppression. It would have been Orwell’s nightmare.
It’s difficult for someone who has (fortunately) grown up in a liberal country, where for the most part people are free, and the government – despite its faults – could be SO much worse.
Distant though it is to us now – this incredible, courageous, miraculous battle should be enshrined in our history for all time.
Warrior panorama
***
75 years ago tens of thousands of troops, and months of planning strove to free Nazi-occupied France from the terrible jackboot of tyranny. In the largest seaborne invasion in history men, machines and miracles fought to bring us freedom, and bring an end to the Second World War. Many died, and those who survived were forever touched by their experiences. Not many of those who fought on those beaches are still with us – the veterans number barely a few hundred – and those who do remain are unlikely to see many more of these commemorations.
Freedom does not come easy, or cheaply. I think many of us alive today – my generation and the generation after me have little concept of what it was like in those terrible years. We take freedom as a given. Most of us (fortunately) have never seen military action, and those who continue to serve do so largely remote from our homeland – maintaining freedom for others.
To those brave men and women who took part in D-Day, and, indeed, those who serve and have served to bring freedom where there is none Thank You. You will not be, and should not be forgotten.
D-Day landings:

  • 156,000 allied troops landed in Normandy, across
  • beaches
  • 7,000 ships and landing craft involved and 10,000 vehicles
  • 4,400 from the combined allied forces died on the day
  • 4,000 – 9,000German casualties
  • Thousands of French civilians also died

We must remember. D-Day 70th anniversary commemoration

This is not my usual type of posting but as this is such a monumental event I felt I had to mark the occasion. I am the daughter of Armed Forces parents, and although they did not fight in World War II, my father was wounded in action when he fought in a later conflict.

World War Two is a generation, or even two away, but still it shapes the world in which we live. Had the outcome been different Europe would have been unrecognisable and more people would have suffered. 2014 is a year in which we commemorate not only the outbreak of World War One, but today, the 6th of June is seventy years since the D-Day landings, possibly the turning point of the war which followed less than a generation later.

In the months leading up to D-Day, misinformation was given to the Nazis, hoping they would not realise what was really afoot. The amphibious assault was preceded by air strikes, and naval bombardment. The landing sites were Omaha, Gold, Sword, Utah and Juno, which have rightly gone down in history. The troops landed under heavy fire from the enemy and many perished, as they had in previous battles.  The beaches were mined, and this was a journey into hell.  Over 4000 men died, and double that number were wounded from an allied force of over 150000. This was just one side. Imagine that, 150000 people charging on those beaches! I cannot comprehend the numbers, or the danger. The town I was raised in did not have 150000 inhabitants.

This is, of course, a very brief account.

So why, seventy years later, should we remember? D-Day and the Normandy Landings, or Operation Neptune, was a great undertaking; the combined alliance of many armies,  Free French, British, Canadian, Australia,  USA, Free Greece, Free Belgium, Free Norway and many others. It was a feat unparalleled in human history.  Called the Longest Day by Rommel it was decisive for the Allies and devastating for the Axis Powers. The bravery of those who fought on those beaches, those who died on that June day and those who returned, often changed men must never be forgotten. Sacrifice and heroism was in abundance on that sand.  Such heroism must be recounted, recalled, so in our, largely, safe and free lives we can understand what was given and by whom.  Most of those who survived and are still living are in their 90s so this is likely to be the last major commemorative event.

Heroism such as this is timeless, it defines us as nations and as a species.

 

The Last March of the Honourable.

© A.L Butcher

They stand abreast, so proud, so sombre,

Old men now, some blind, some lame.

Upon chests of valour medals gleam.

They reflect upon the past,

Comrades buried beneath the serenity,

They ran on, they fell and died for our future.

They charged into the mouth of hell,

Upon that summer day,

Numbers dwindling then as now.

Men of such honour,

Heroes of our time,

All time.

Then, now and forever.

 

If you want to learn more please visit the links below.

 

http://www.history.co.uk/study-topics/history-of-ww2/d-day

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27700479

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-27726722

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/10874340/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-D-Day-landings.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normandy_landings